Robert Covington bounces back, boosts Wolves past Cavaliers
CLEVELAND Robert Covington wasnt lacking for confidence before the Timberwolves faced the Cavaliers on Monday night. He wasnt sulking after going 1-for-18 against the Bulls on Saturday.
You didnt shoot well, it doesnt mean it has to go into the next game, Covington said.
He lived out those words Monday night and helped the Wolves fend off an undermanned but plucky Cleveland, who was without former Wolves forward Kevin Love, in a 102-95 win for Minnesota at Quicken Loans Arena.
Covington finished with 24 points on 8-for-12 shooting and played his customary strong defense. Karl-Anthony Towns added 21 points and 10 rebounds and had a pair of big baskets down the stretch as the Wolves pulled away from Cleveland. Rodney Hood had 20 points to lead the Cavaliers.
The Wolves looked lackadaisical on offense in their first few possessions of the game and fell behind early, but then Jeff Teague got going for the Wolves. Teague admitted Friday to not being 100 percent as he plays through a knee contusion that caused him to miss six games and an ankle injury upon his return to the lineup. But he looked fine in the first quarter.
Perhaps Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton had something to do with that. The two appeared to be jawing with each other and after Teague deflected the ball off Sexton, he made a motion toward Sexton. Teague finished the first quarter with 10 points on 5 of 7 shooting as the Wolves overcame their early six-point deficit to take a 29-26 lead after one. Those would be the last field goals of Teagues night, however.
The second unit came on in the second quarter and extended that lead to as high as 14 thanks to some strong minutes from Dario Saric and Tyus Jones, who contributed some key baskets in a 13-2 run to open the quarter. The Cavaliers steadied thing as the starters made their way back in. Kyle Korver knocked down a pair of three-pointers while Hood hit six of 11 shots from the field and led the Cavs with 13 points as Cleveland cut the Wolves lead to 54-47 at the half.
Towns also had 13 for the Wolves at the break while Robert Covington shook off his 1-for-18 performances against the Bulls by hitting 5 of 7 in the first half.
The third quarter played out much like the second in that the Wolves were able to get another double-digit lead on the Cavs. Covington continued his hot shooting as the Wolves scratched out a 69-57 lead on Cleveland. But the Cavaliers closed the quarter on a 14-6 run thanks in part to a pair of buckets from Larry Nance Jr., who also played solid defense on Taj Gibson most of the night.
The bench once again provided some comfort for the Wolves to start the fourth quarter as Derrick Rose began heating up after a slow start from the field. He finished with 12 points The Wolves opened the fourth on an 11-3 run to grab another 12-point lead 86-74. The Cavaliers came back within 88-84 after that, but Covington and Towns made sure they didnt get any closer.